27 little travel luxuries to make any trip feel first class

by Сашка

Treat yourself to room service, fuzzy slippers and other simple pleasures that help relieve stress.



Key takeaways

Summary is AI-generated, newsroom-reviewed.

  • Before travel, pack strategically, including eye mask, magazine, salt, utensils.
  • At airport and on plane, take advantage of food, relaxation options, or brew your own caffeine.
  • At hotel, use your own slippers, order room service and make the space your own.

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Flying is a grind. The long airport lines, the tight connections, the ever-shrinking legroom, the mystery of lost luggage: At its most chaotic, the experience can feel like being pummeled by a jackhammer.

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27 little travel luxuries to make any trip feel first class

27 little travel luxuries to make any trip feel first class

27 little travel luxuries to make any trip feel first class

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When you’re facing the draining prospect of red-eye flights or multiple layovers, even the smallest acts of self-care take on new importance. These little gifts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive to provide a dash of comfort. They might even fit into your carry-on bag or coat pocket.

In preparation for the hectic summer travel season, we assembled a list of 27 things you can do that promise to improve your mood while you’re away.

Pack better

1. Keep a set of toiletries just for travel

To avoid forgetting a toothbrush and having to brush with your index finger, keep your toiletry bag stocked with its own set of supplies. Replenish it between trips, throwing the products directly into your beauty case, or order the whole kit and caboodle, such as Aesop’s seven-pack of essentials. Once home, store it away (but don’t unpack it).

2. Refresh with essential oils

A drop or two of an essential oil does wonders to revive musty travel clothes or calm your nerves. Try eucalyptus for spa vibes or lavender for a more relaxing aroma, starting at about $5 a bottle.

3. Pack a DIY spa kit

Do you have an extra sheet mask or fancy samples of night cream or foot lotion lying around? Put them in your bag for your next trip, and treat yourself to a DIY spa experience. Bring cozy socks for the full pampering experience.

4. Block out lights with an eye mask

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Hell is tiny hotel lights you can’t shut off. Save your future self by packing a light-blocking eye mask. We’re partial to models from Manta Sleep. To double down on your fight for total darkness, pack light-blocking stickers for fire alarms, WiFi routers and other blinking pests.

5. Stash fancy salt, spices and hot sauce

It may seem tiny, but a little flaky salt goes a long way. Jacobsen Salt Co. sells a perfect container for traveling foodies for $6. You can add more flavor with Tajín to-go packets, a key chain bottle of Cholula hot sauce, Diaspora Co.’s versatile “Popcorn Masala” or Yellowbird’s handy travel-size hot sauce bottles.

6. Bring a magazine

You scroll on your phone every day, and you need a break. Books are great, but magazines (and, ahem, newspapers) are more mobile: lightweight, as breezy as you require and recyclable when you’re done. If you grab a magazine from home, you get the added benefit of decluttering.

7. Carry your own utensils

Unlike disposable plastic cutlery, utensils made of such sturdy materials as bamboo, stainless steel or recycled razor blades won’t snap under pressure. (Butter knives are okay with TSA.) In addition to providing a more civilized dining experience, the reusable utensils are eco-friendly. Some cities and countries, such as England, have banned single-use plastic items.

At the airport

8. Save up podcasts and audiobooks

The episode recaps of your favorite show have been piling up. That latest best-selling thriller is burning a hole in your AirPods. Don’t waste them on your daily commute. For road trips, it’s even better to stock up on pods or books that you and your traveling party all enjoy.

9. Buy a baller snack

If the Toblerone bar as long as your arm is calling, it’s your duty to answer. Even if the price of Chex Mix is high, grab a few bags of your favorites off the snack wall at Hudson News. Scout out local bakery outposts if an airport has one, such as Ladurée at Charles de Gaulle in France. Vending machines have evolved, with cupcakes and edible cookie dough in Las Vegas and hot ramen at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.

10. Or splurge on an airport meal

Yes, airport food is overpriced. Yes, you could meal-prep instead. But it’s ultimately a gift to yourself to let someone else serve and prepare your supper — not a sad Starbucks wrap but an actual sit-down situation where you can relax near-ish your gate. Is it going to be the best Caesar salad of your life? Probably not. But you can increase your odds of making it worth your while if you pick a trusted local brand.

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11. Shower in between flights

Found in almost every major international airport lounge, the airport shower offers a sudsy sanctuary from other people.

12. Moisturize at duty free

The best part of duty free isn’t shopping without tax; it’s the access to free samples of high-end products. Hydrate your skin with the latest moisturizer of the moment, or try on a new personality with a spritz of spicy cologne.

On the plane

13. Carry your favorite pillow

Sleeping on a plane can be a disaster for your neck, but a good pillow can help. Some turn to travel options that fit in your bag, such as our beloved Trtl or the Cushion Lab ergonomic travel pillow. Others shun minimalism in favor of maximum comfort and bring a full-size pillow. (Sorry, neighbor.)

14. Brew your own tea

Stash a variety of fancy tea bags in your wallet or in a travel mug, which a flight attendant or food service employee can fill with hot water. Some airports (see: Istanbul) also provide hot water dispensers. Throw in a few honey sticks or straws for a touch of sweetness.

15. Ditto, for coffee

For various gross reasons, we have been warned against drinking coffee on planes. If you desire a good, clean and immediate cup of coffee, there are lots of caffeinators to choose from: frozen capsules by Commeter, gourmet instant coffee from Verve Coffee Roasters or the self-sufficient AeroPress Go, which comes with its own mug and menu of coffee drinks. Prep your coffee in the airport, to avoid the dubious hot water onboard.

16. Carry a cocktail kit

A commercial flight could never stand in for your favorite cocktail bar, but an in-flight cocktail kit can bring you a step closer. There are just-add-booze iterations for many tastes, whether you’re looking for a dirty martini or a mai tai.

17. Put on noise-canceling headphones

One of our staff got Sennheiser over-ear headphones for a birthday this year, and he wore them on a flight to Florida. Afterward, they learned from their spouse that the 8-year-old sitting behind them had been loudly arguing with his brother the whole flight. They didn’t hear a thing.

18. Rest your feet in a sling

For less than $30, you can turn your ho-hum seat into something more akin to a hammock. The “Airplane Footrest” connects to your tray table to create a sling to rest your feet. It helps eliminate the rumbling of the plane floor vibrations, relieving back tension and soothing your entire body — a win-win-win for a long haul.

19. Wear compression socks

Compression socks are a lifesaver on a long-distance flight. One of Amazon’s top-sellers, a moisture-wicking pair from “Physix Gear Sport” ($15), helps reduce swelling and improve blood circulation during sedentary stretches at high altitude.

20. Spritz your face with mist

Face mists, such as travel-size tins from Evian, or an antibacterial one from Tower 28, are a flight attendant favorite that deliver an instant dose of freshness. Just make sure not to dampen your neighbors.

At the hotel

21. Step into your own slippers

If you have space in your luggage, bring your plush house pair. For a more portable option, consider spa-style slip-ons or thick socks with antiskid soles, such as the ones made by Bombas. Your feet will feel toasty and hermetically sealed.

22. Order room service

You could go out, but you’re exhausted. Maybe you’re feeling a little lazy — and a lot hungry. Now is the time to indulge in the convenient luxury of a cheeseburger clad in a cloche.

23. Pay for a hotel movie

Room service and a movie are a perfect duo. There’s an underappreciated comfort in watching a movie from a bed that isn’t your own. Perhaps best enjoyed on a premium channel, while wearing a robe and basking on a bed with extra-fluffy pillows.

24. Or stream your own shows

To keep up with your binge-watches, bring your Roku, Fire TV Stick or other streaming device along. Then there’s no need to re-log in to apps on another device in an Airbnb or hotel.

25. Give yourself a mini massage

If a full-on massage isn’t in your budget for every trip, you can still work out the knots with a portable massage gun, such as a Hyperice Hypersphere ($149), the Hypervolt Go 2 ($129) or a Theragun mini ($199).

26. Turn on a white-noise machine

Annoying hotel noises are right up there with annoying little lights. The icemaker down the hall, the kids thwarting bedtime next door and the industrial air conditioner can all keep good sleep at bay. Combat them all with a mini white-noise machine. This one is small enough to fit in your pocket but powerful enough to tune out toddlers and traffic.

27. Aromatize your pillow

Signal to your body that it’s time to snooze by applying aromatherapy to your pillow. There are endless options out there, such as the budget-friendly Dr Teal’s lavender sleep spray ($8) and the higher-end Jo Malone Moonlit Camomile pillow mist ($50).

Ryan Bacic contributed to this report.

More travel tips

Vacation planning: Start with a strategy to maximize days off by taking PTO around holidays. Experts recommend taking multiple short trips for peak happiness. Want to take an ambitious trip? Here are 12 destinations to try this year — without crowds.

Cheap flights: Follow our best advice for scoring low airfare, including setting flight price alerts and subscribing to deal newsletters. If you’re set on an expensive getaway, here’s a plan to save up without straining your credit limit.

Airport chaos: We’ve got advice for every scenario, from canceled flights to lost luggage. Stuck at the rental car counter? These tips can speed up the process. And following these 52 rules of flying should make the experience better for everyone.

Expert advice: Our By The Way Concierge solves readers’ dilemmas, including whether it’s okay to ditch a partner at security, or what happens if you get caught flying with weed. Submit your question here. Or you could look to the gurus: Lonely Planet and Rick Steves.

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